Founder of Melissa & Doug Toys Discusses Mental Health in Her Newly-Published Book

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By Luke Canavan

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FRAMINGHAM – Melissa Bernstein teamed up with the Framingham Public Library to host a virtual event discussing her new book LifeLines: An Inspirational Journey from Profound Darkness to Radiant Light on Monday, May 3.

Bernstein is also the founder and co-owner of Melissa & Doug Toys. The company has made more than 5,000 different children’s products and sold billions of dollars worth of toys.

LifeLines took Bernstein almost 50 years to write.

“In truth, I was writing that book probably since the day I was born. I was born with something so rare… it’s called existential depression. It is what is simply called a crisis of meaning,” said Bernstein. “Feeling so out of sorts, feeling like I didn’t belong, feeling like no one would ever accept me for feeling these really dark thoughts.”

Although Bernstein has found success in many elements of her life, with a loving husband and family, and an incredibly prosperous business, Bernstein has never been able to accept herself for who she really is until recently, and this has led to a lot of dark moments in her life.

“I had everything… But the truth is when you deny who you are and don’t accept yourself as who you are, you still feel that inauthentic life… When I finally got the courage to break free, I didn’t question it for a second,” said Bernstein. “I had to serve my soul, or I would have died feeling like I never truly lived.”

Some of the verses in LifeLines go back to when Bernstein was a child.

“When I was three or four or five years old, I wrote these verses. And they were the way I made sense of the senseless… They reflected everything I felt,” said Bernstein.

Bernstein thought that if they could save her, maybe they could save someone else as well.

While writing this book, Bernstein began to realize the importance of putting herself first.

“We must care for ourselves, and fill our well, so that we are not serving from an empty well, because that is not good and will lead to bitterness,” said Bernstein.

Bernstein was able to take all of that dark, negative energy and turn it into something good. Bernstein now sees the world in an entirely different way.

“I now believe that even if there is potentially no meaning to life, we as humans must strive to live life and make meaning,” said Bernstein. “We all have the capacity to channel our darkness into light and make meaning.”

Bernstein’s full book is available on the LifeLines Website.

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Canavan is a 2021 SOURCE intern. He will graduate from UMass Amherst this month. This was his final assignment for SOURCE, but a few of his assignments will publish later this month.

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